Stumbling onward
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Stumbling onward

What got me started on my creator journey

I wish I could say that the idea to start a podcast was a eureka moment. But it wasn’t. In all earnestness, the journey to becoming a small time creator began years before.

I decided to take a break from working as a journalist when I was about to deliver my first child. In my last trimester, I realised I wasn’t able to keep up my usual schedule of handing in articles or interviews as before. I was getting tired faster and my concentration levels were dipping. I’d initially decided to take a sabbatical from work when my child arrived as I wanted to be completely present for those early years. Instead I decided to advance it by a month or two as my productivity was slipping, so it wasn’t fair to the magazine — a media startup — if I couldn’t bring out enough content.

Three years later, I still hadn’t gone back to work when my second child arrived though there were a few work opportunities. I’ve wondered if I would’ve been further along in my career if I hadn’t taken a break of seven years because I often see my peers having accomplished much more. But I also do not regret that I chose to completely spend the formative years of my children’s lives with them. It is a decision I’m still happy about.

I shall admit though that during those seven years, a constant feeling accompanied me — to go back to doing something that I enjoy when I was ready. But this time, on my own terms. You see, I’ve come to realise in hindsight that the reason I changed my workplace at regular intervals was because I outgrew what I came to learn and when no new challenges were presented to me, I sought the next challenge myself.

It was in that same vein that the idea to start a podcast emerged. I wanted to do what I loved but on my terms and not bound geographically. And thanks to technology, a simple thought occurred to me one morning, ‘Why not start a podcast?’

Now the next thing I did is something I’m a little proud of. Without delaying or overthinking, once I packed my children off to school, I took out a notepad and started researching about what goes into starting a podcast. It was a completely foreign territory for me — to get familiar with the tech aspect of podcasting. While I did study electronics and communication as a graduate, technology isn’t my strong suit — a reason why I switched my career to journalism.

But I never got bored or frustrated when I started learning about the different microphones, recorders, how to connect audio cables and the editing software that I’d to learn — it kept me hooked. By the way, I feel compelled to mention that I worked as a programmer after finishing college. Needless to say, I was hopeless at it.

Once I’d done my research, I had to order the equipment. I wanted to keep my cost minimal but simultaneously not compromise on the audio quality. Luckily, a few family members were travelling to the US around that time so I was fortunate that they were able to bring them. Once the equipment was in place, I started the audio trials to check the quality and also to work on my post production game.

My initial plan was to launch my podcast ‘Maharani Talks’ in March 2020 but that was when the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and we all had to suddenly adjust to our normal lives being completely shaken up. I was not in position to work on anything new, with my children’s classes shifting online whilst having to take care of the household. But I was slowly able to start working on it again and soon set up interviews and finally published my podcast trailer in May 2020.

And this is when your real struggles and the stress that comes with it start — when you decide to do something on your own. Getting rejected by potential guests (that continues to happen) and seeing very slow growth (yes, still happening) are part of the game. Once you accept this fact, managing your expectations is a tad easier. But still disheartening — you cannot escape that.

More importantly, improving your craft — in my case, to be a better interviewer is an art I’m aware I’ve to continuously work at even after all these years. While earlier I interviewed to write, this was the first time I was interviewing for audio and that comes with its own set of challenges. In the case of writing an article, if I feel I missed an important detail, I could always go back to the person and include it in my article, but I cannot do so with podcast recording. To expect someone to hop on another recorded video call is not an option. This is where your research will be your best ally. There are many such mistakes I’ve made along the way but making mistakes isn’t something I worry too much about because mistakes reveal that you’re learning and growing.

It’s been almost a year since I published my podcast and it is still just the very beginning. Where am I headed or what should Maharani Talks come to be years from now are questions that I’m not too preoccupied with at the moment. The path I’ve chosen will show me the way as long as I listen to myself.

A creator’s journey

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Mahathi Rangarajan

Mahathi Rangarajan

Programmer turned journalist and now, a podcaster